You’ve just lost your job, your daughter came home with pink hair, the debt pile is getting higher and higher and your son needs braces on his teeth. So…do you run to or away from the refrigerator?
It’s a fact, people who are under a lot of stress tend to do one of two things – either they eat more or they eat less. But despite what they do, more often than not, people under stress gain weight!
The purpose of cortisol is to increase your appetite after an immediate danger (stressor) has passed. The trouble is, with chronic stress, your body is in a perpetual state of “fight or flight,” meaning more and more cortisol is being produced, thereby increasing your appetite. And even if you don’t eat more…the mere presence of this hormone slows down your metabolism and tends to cause fat retention, especially around the midsection!
So…what can you do when stressed to combat weight gain?
- Get proper rest – cortisol levels rise when you lose sleep and you may feel hungrier than you would with proper rest!
- Take a walk – even if it’s only for 15–20 minutes several times a week. Exercise releases “good” hormones that make you feel better and reduce stress and it burns calories – so it offers 2-for-1 benefits!
- Eat six smaller meals a day and keep the diet healthy! This helps keep your blood sugar (insulin) and cortisol levels in check.
- Find ways to relax – yoga, meditation, sitting on a beach, reading a good book, watching a movie that makes you laugh – this works like exercise to reduce stress by producing positive brain chemicals!
- Laugh – no matter what – always find reasons to laugh! Watch a funny movie or an old television program; go out with friends you enjoy – laughing also releases the “good” brain chemicals that relieve stress.
Now get on the move! It's time to move forward to a healthier lifestyle. Many of you, if not all, have thought about increasing, or starting to, exercise as a personal goal. I ask you, where are you with that goal?